Have novels about love lost their gravitas as women’s liberation and divorce culture have taken over? Adelle Waldman doesn’t think so. In The New Yorker, she defends the timelessness of the marriage plot. “As long as marriage and love and relationships have high stakes for us emotionally, they have the potential to offer rich subject material for novelists, no matter how flimsy or comparatively uninteresting contemporary relationships seem on their surface.” Pair with: Our Jeffrey Eugenides essay on writing The Marriage Plot, which is referenced several times in Waldman’s essay.
The New York Public Library announced their eighteenth annual Young Lions Fiction Award, which is “given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories.” The 2018 finalists are: Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Venita Blackburn‘s Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, Gabe Habash‘s Stephen Florida, Emily Ruskovich‘s Idaho, and Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart. From our archives: Habash and Zhang‘s 2017 Year in Reading entries.
Fifty years ago, Frank O’Hara released Lunch Poems, a collection of remarkably informal poetry that rebuked the more academic verse of his day. As a tribute, Dwight Garner writes about the importance of the book in the Times, arguing that O’Hara’s grasp of the zeitgeist is the reason he appeared on Mad Men. For more on the poet’s legacy, take a look at Christopher Richards on O’Hara’s lessons for being gay.
We haven’t seen a comic from Bill Watterson in two decades, but he’s back with an illustration. Watterson drew the poster art for a new documentary on comic strips Stripped, which also features him. There are no tigers to be found but a nude man jumping out of his clothes in full color instead.
How do readers recover from an abominable weekend but with a reading list, in this case one suggested on Twitter by Jay Varner, a writer and instructor based in Charlottesville. Varner links out to 12 articles about “why so many continue to believe an unequivocally false historical narrative surrounding the Confederacy,” including pieces by New Orleans’ mayor Mitch Landrieu, Slate‘s Jamelle Bouie, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose Between the World and Me made our roundup from last year of the best political fiction (yes, we do realize it’s decidedly not fiction).